Archive - December, 2006

Goals are written for 2007

I have spent the last several days thinking about 2006 and what I would like to see happen in 2007.

My preferred method for pondering is with a bag of sunflower seeds, a long drive ahead of me, and a football game on the radio.  I tend to zone out and hone in on my thoughts.

As we traveled back home from Indiana, I bought two packs of sunflower seeds for $1, obtained an empty soft drink cup from the gas station to spit shells into, and then started thinking (dreaming …)

Goals for 2007

  • Purchase a house that we love and would be happy living in for at least the next 15 years.
  • Speak at 10 different locations about personal finances
  • Have a book published
  • 500 people through financial counseling at NewSpring Church
  • 500 people through finance classes at NewSpring Church
  • Run at least 600 miles
  • Attend the graduations of my brother from Drexel University School of Medicine (Philadelphia, PA), my sister-in-law from Spring Arbor University (Spring Arbor, MI), and another sister-in-law from the GREAT Purdue University (my alma-mater in West Lafayette,IN!)
  • Attend the wedding of my sister-in-law in Chicago, IL
  • Plan a fly-in fishing trip to Canada for 2008

So those are some of the goals I have listed out.  These goals will drive our financial decisions for 2007.  Of course, Jenn has additional goals that will also help drive our financial decisions.  Remember, we WORK TOGETHER on our finances!  That is why we are doing well!

QUESTION:  Do you have a written plan?

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

Well, it is time to roll on up to Indiana to celebrate Christmas!

Now, you may avoid getting together with your relatives for a family rebellion, but I personally LOVE to get together with my brothers, nephews, nieces, and parents.  We usually eat large quantities of food, play lots of card games (Texas Hold'em is the most popular for now), go to Indy and hang out, and run back and forth between each others' houses.

All six of the brothers are going to be together this Christmas.  This does not happen often enough!

So here it is, another Christmas is upon us.  The 4th year in a row that Jenn and I bought all of our Christmas with cash we had saved up.  We have ZERO debt, and we have bought some really cool gifts!

Looking for a New Year's Resolution?  Try this one "Pay cash for 2007's Christmas presents!"  I PROMISE you that you will never regret it!

Merry Christmas!

Giving – Reasons that Jenn and I give

I am continually amazed by the number of persons I meet who have nearly $1,000 a month in car payments, yet they do not give any money away.  They just cannot seem to find a way to do it.  They claim to really want to give, but when it comes time to cut the checks giving is not a part of it.

I disagree.  I do not believe that they truly want to give or that it is last on the list of importance.  If giving were truly important to them, they would be doing so!

Jenn and I love to give.  I thought that in the spirit of Christmas, I would list the reasons that Jenn and I give money away.

1.  It is what we are called to do.  We are Christians who are attempting to be the best followers of Christ that we can possibly be.  Christ gave His life for us.  The least we can do is give some of our money to help others.  As a result, we give at least 10% of our gross income to our local church.  We give additional money to help missionaries who are dependent upon our financial gifts to be able to conduct ministry where they are.

2.  We want to support causes that we deeply believe in.  One way to do this is to provide financial support.  We love Purdue University.  Our education at that school impacted our lives forever!  We want to ensure that this continues for students in the future.  We love our home church, NewSpring.  We want to ensure that this church is able to continue to impact the community and the world.  We love helping others.  If we see a need, it is awesome to be able to help financially without worrying about how in the world we are going to make it.

3.  We live in the richest country on the planet so the least we could do is give some money away.  Seriously, how terrible is it that we pout that we can't drive a Lexus when there are others on this same planet who do not have food to eat?

4.  We want to leave a legacy and an excellent example for our children and our children's children.  If we were to keep all of our money to ourselves, our child would learn that same behavior.  Jenn and I want to inspire the "attitude of gratitude" in our daughter.  Pay it forward.  It is worth it!

5.  We love being able to help.  The Bible says that we are created in God's own image.  He gave his only son for us.  That means that God is a giver and since we are created in his image, we can't help but give.  It is an AWESOME feeling to be able to give.

If you are not giving money away, you are missing out!  It is truly better to give than to receive.  Try it out!  Start with $10!  Anything!  You will see immediately the truth of giving.

Merry Christmas!

More Frequently Asked Questions

A lot of feedback rolled in from the last FAQ post!  I thought I would answer a few more regularly asked questions.

Do you budget using a weekly budget or a monthly budget?

We budget using the monthly budget.  Why?  Because we have enough in our account to pay for the entire month's bills (Dave Ramsey's Baby Step #3 is "3 – 6 months of EXPENSES in a fully funded emergency fund".  Since we can just sit down and pay all of the bills at one time, we use the monthly budget.  I will tell you this.  I was happy the day we achieved "3 – 6 months of expenses" in our emergency fund, but I was PUMPED to be able to pay all of the bills once per month.

Seriously, I was more happy about being able to pay all of our bills once per month than I was about achieving "3 – 6 months of expenses" in our emergency fund.  It has made bill-paying a lot faster and easier.  I don't have to balance which paycheck pays which bills and write out checks every single week.

For some people, it will probably be more motivating for you to save money just so you are be able to pay all of your bills in one sitting instead of every single stinking week!

When you and Jenn started budgeting, did you see any immediate savings?

ABSOLUTELY!!!  We saved $200/month IMMEDIATELY the very 1st month in our Grocery fund BECAUSE WE USED THE CASH ENVELOPE!  The great thing is that we have managed to continue to spend $200 less every single month on this same category for over 36 months!!!  We also were able to reduce spending across the board by about another $200/month.  Using this "found" money, we were able to achieve debt freedom in 14 months!

If you are just starting out, and are a little reluctant to have 13 cash envelopes in your pocket, try having TWO – Groceries & Dining Out.  These are routinely the top two categories that blow up a budget.

How do I stick to my budget?

Wow!  If I could answer this question and put it in a book, well, I would be very wealthy!  Smile  I will tell you what helped Jenn and I stick to our budget – We were SICK AND TIRED of making good money and seeing it all leave every single month.  We were SICK AND TIRED of not being able to pay cash for items that we should have been able to pay cash for.  We (together) were willing to reduce our spending and give up a few things in order to achieve financial freedom.

As a result of our COMMITMENT TO EACH OTHER and our COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW THE BUDGET, we started winning.

I would also add that another key motivating factor for me was that we could budget some fun in the spending plan.  Not a lot of fun, but some fun.  As long as the budget equation was achieved (INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO), we were able to go on some small vacations and have some spending money.  That was enough to keep me in line and on board.

Do you have more questions?  E-mail them to me: joe.sangl@newspring.cc and I will answer them over the coming weeks.

PS:  Christmas is a lot more fun when you are paying cash for all of the presents and there is ZERO debt attached to them!

Proverbs 14:30-31

30: "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."

31: "He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."

As I help folks get their finances in order, I cast vision as to "how things could be" IF "they would just do this, this, and that."  Many times this involves selling some stuff – cars, boats, motorcycles, houses!  I want people to have nice stuff, but many times the nice stuff is eating up 50% of their budget OR MORE.  Folks just will not win with expenses like that!

As I cast vision, it is not unusual for me to say, "If you sell the two cars and buy two used cars, you could be debt-free except for the house in 12 months.  If you keep the cars, you may be debt-free in 60 months." Or I might say, "If you sell the boat and motorcycle, you could be debt-free immediately.  If you keep the boat and motorcycle, you may be debt-free in 72 months."

When I mention selling some stuff, I begin encountering resistance!  This is their stuff!  They love their stuff!  They bought this stuff, and they want to keep it!  Even when it is eating them alive financially!  Even when they are not able to give one thin dime and are not assisting others at all!

As I go through meetings like this, I see that God's word is true.  Proverbs 14:30 says that "envy rots the bones".  When people have a bad case of stuff-itis, it is usually a result of envy.  They saw someone else with that item, and they wanted one too.  The difference is that they could not afford it.  The verse also says that "a heart at peace gives life to the body."  When stuff-itis is cured, WOW!  The peace is awesome!  Knowing you could go to the store and buy anything in there, but not doing it because you really don't need anything.  Wow!  I am telling you it is AWESOME!  Jenn and I have been vaccinated against stuff-itis, and it feels good!

Proverbs 14:31 says that "whoever is kind to the needy honors God."  I guess that is why it pains me so deeply in my soul when I see people up to their eyeballs in debt with a bad case of stuff-itis.  They are so loaded up with their own wants that they do not even see the the needy, let alone help them.

The solution?  Get a vaccination against stuff-itis!

Children need to learn about money

One thing that really pumps me up is seeing parents teaching their children how to manage money well.

I remember as a child that I knew the value of money.  I was the youngest of six children.  My dad was self-employed and my mother kept the six boys in line.  We knew the value of money.  How did we know the value of money?

We rarely went out to eat.  Why?  We could eat at home sooooo much cheaper.

We planted a HUGE garden.  We picked, cleaned, snapped, and canned over 100 quarts of green beans in a single day multiple times.  We planted an ACRE of sweet corn.  We boiled that corn, cut the kernels off, but them into freezer bags, and froze hundreds of bags of corn.  We picked grapes until it filled 5-gallon pails and made grape juice out of it.  We grew asparagus.  We grew tomatoes – yellow and red.  Butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins, … the list goes on and on.  Why did we plant a huge garden?  It was much cheaper than buying it at the grocery store PLUS my parents had six laborers available!

We went on vacation, but we went to places that were cheap and accommodated large families (country areas).  We loved every single vacation.

My dad attempted the weekend farmer thing.  We had a cruddy old Gleaner combine that broke nearly every time we took it out.  We saw how tough it was to get ahead if we did not plan on break downs!

My dad gave me a book when I was around twelve years old called The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton.  It was a fictional story written around the concept of compound interest.  WOW!  It got my attention and the instant I began earning an income, I started investing money – in large part due to reading that one story!

Children need to learn about money.  I learned about how to manage money from my parents.  I DID NOT learn how to manage money from the school I attended.  For most children, the number one way they will learn how to manage money is from their parents.  Are you setting the example?  Are you teaching them the "How-To" part?

If you are looking for a great place to start teaching your children about money, it would be during Christmas break.  Get a copy of The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton and read it together with your children.  Sound nerdy?  Maybe, but I guarantee you that your child will not forget it!

The hooks are into those with high incomes!

"To be able to save, I will need to make more money."

I have heard this said a lot.  Have you?

It is true that INCOME is one part of the INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO formula, but it is a rare situation indeed when a person's only hope for saving money is to raise their income!

Remember that this I am a financial counselor who sees many financially stressed persons every week!  RARELY is it an INCOME issue.

Most times, it is an OUTGO issue!

For those who are high income, it is amazing how many barbed hooks are sunk into the income!  Here are just some of the hooks …

  • 1st house, 2nd house, 3rd house
  • For each of those houses come the accompanying bills:  Electricity, Gas, Cable, Phone, Lawn Care, Housekeeping, Maintenance, Insurance, Taxes, etc.
  • 1st car,  2nd car, 3rd car
  • For each car, the bills roll in: Insurance, Taxes, Maintenance, Gasoline
  • Vacations
  • Country Club memberships
  • Jewelry
  • High Fashion
  • Box Seats for all events
  • Personal Fitness Trainers
  • One-on-one lessons
  • Private schools
  • Super-pricey college

The list goes on and on and on!  If those with high incomes do not watch out, they can be spent into the poor house before they can blink twice!

Why are those with high incomes at the most risk?  Well, people generally know that these individuals earn a high income, so they are sought out by those with something to sell.  If you want to make some money, you might as well go to those with some to spend.  Preferably a LOT to spend.

In the book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Stanley describes persons as PAWs and UAWs (Prodigous Accumulators of Wealth – PAWs or Under Accumulators of Wealth – UAWs).  PAWs have a net worth equal to 10X their annual income.  UAWs have a net worth equal to less than 3X their annual income.

As Stanley performed analysis on PAWs and UAWs, he noticed a very clear distinction about UAWs.  They had a stated or unstated need to "keep up with the Jones's".  As a result, they spent more money than they made, and although they might have $300,000 in the bank, their peers have over $2,000,000 in the bank.  Why?  The UAWs allowed the hooks of "keeping up with the Jones's" to sink in!

If you are a high income earner, beware the hooks!  Ensure that you understand that YOU are in control of your finances – not the slick salesman or your broke friends.  How much could you leave to your children if you removed some of the "hooks"?  How much could you spend on things you really liked if you removed some of the "hooks"?  How much could you give away to causes you deeply believe in if you removed some of the "hooks"?

If you are not a high income earner, avoid the "keep up with the Jones's" mentality and pursue financial freedom instead.  If you keep saving, every single month for years, you will have a high income.  You can do this!

To those who are changing entire financial future …

You PUMP me up!!!  I am excited to see the huge improvements that you are making in the management of your finances!

I am in the midst of meeting with over 40 couples over the next few weeks.  It has been awesome to meet with each individual and couple, hear their story, and be able to help them produce their first-ever budget!  It has been awesome to conduct scenario-analysis to say, "What if you did this … ?"  and "You would be 100% debt-free in 6 months if you just did this …" and "You can RETIRE!"

I have seen people with NO HOPE leave with a spring in their step and saying, "I SEE HOPE!!!"  I have seen people who have NEVER worked together on their finances sit together in my office and WORK TOGETHER to put together their spending for the next month.  I have seen people who have significant financial mountains/monsters in their life with NO PLAN for how to deal with them leave with a REALISTIC PLAN for eliminating the mountains/monsters.

Most of all, I see couples working together to achieve the plans they have for their lives!  I see couples working together to teach their children.  I see people going and teaching others that there is indeed a better way!

Way to go!  I am inspired by you all!

Do we deceive ourselves?

I am currently working through some materials written by John Ortberg, and yesterday I came across a sentence that made me stop short.

He wrote, "Truth confronts the unfortunate tendencies we all have toward self-deception."

Wow!  Do you have a tendency to deceive yourself?  I know I do!

I used to really deceive myself when it came to my finances.

I would deceive myself by making a bad financial decision and then say to myself, "Oh, it's not really that bad.  You will be able to pay for it with your tax refund next year."  By the time the tax refund arrived, I would realize that I had spent 2X that amount – planning on using the tax refund to pay for both.  Self-deception.

I would deceive myself by saying, "I will follow this budget that I put together for this year."  And, then I would not follow the budget.  But I could say that I did have an annual budget!

I would deceive myself by saying, "I have paid off these credit cards.  We are not going to go through this again."  And, guess what?  I would load up the credit cards again.

Let's go back to what John Ortberg wrote: "Truth confronts the unfortunate tendencies we all have toward self-deception."

What were the TRUTHS that confronted my self-deception?

  • The TRUTH is that it really is BAD to spend money you do not have!  Planning on using upcoming payments is not good enough!  The TRUTH is that when you pay cash for items, you will NEVER run into the "Oh no, I have overspent the tax refund" situation.
  • The TRUTH is that a monthly budget that is developed using INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO as its basis will work ONLY when you commit to actually following it!  Developing a budget would be a worthless paperwork exercise for Jenn and I if we were not 100% committed to following it.
  • The TRUTH is that if I have a credit card, there is a HUGE chance that I will run up a balance on it.  I have lost three times with the credit cards.  Getting rid of the credit cards and closing the accounts was a key reason that Jenn and I became and have stayed debt-free.

Call things what they really are.  Ensure you have a truth-teller in your life (spouse, someone who is winning with their money) who will ensure truth is spoken to you.  It really will confront our unfortunate tendency toward self-deception.

Leadership in Finances

What does the word "Leadership" mean?

Well, it is (as my 7-year old daughter informs me) a compound word comprising of two words: Leader & Ship

I started thinking …  What does a Lead Ship look like for the Navy?

Here are some characteristics that describe a Lead Ship:

§         Always out in front

§         1st to confront the enemy

§         Scares the enemy (why do enemies always try to attack the rear?)

§         Always prepared for the surprise

§         Best people are on board

§         Nimble and Flexible

§         Trusted

§         Heavily Equipped/Armed

§         Always on the lookout

§         Newest/Best knowledge and equipment

§         Has a plan!

§         Leads others

How does this apply to your finances?  Well, do you exhibit the same characteristics when it comes to the way you manage your finances?

Do you have a plan?  Are you prepared for the surprise?  Do you have a plan?  Are you flexible?  Are you able to be trusted?

Look through the list.  What do you need to do to exhibit these characteristics?

Reasons why it is hard to budget

As I assist others in the creation of workable budgets, I see certain issues crop up often.  These are reasons that budgeting might be difficult for some people.

1.  Unwillingness to change behavior.  This is an out-and-out rebellion!  A refusal to recognize that INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO will not eliminate this fact from being reality.  If someone is unable to pay their bills, and they are still getting weekly manicures, something is wrong!  If someone is unable to pay their bills, yet are still spending $50/week eating at restaurants, something is wrong!

2.  It is not about money at all.  It is a TRUST issue.  Wow!  You want to see power struggles in a marriage?  Get them to talk about their money!  I believe this is a HUGE reason that it is hard to budget for some couples.  It is about TRUST.  Do I TRUST you enough to put our money together into a single checking account?  Do I TRUST you enough to let you pull cash out for spending money?  Do I TRUST you enough to follow our written plan – the budget?  Do I TRUST you enough to hear your opinion about where we should spend our money?  Do I TRUST you enough to believe that we really need to spend that much money at the grocery store?  Do I TRUST you – because you have screwed it up in the past?  I am telling you this is a HUGE reason why it is so hard to budget.  Ppssssst!!  You can do it!  I believe in you!

3.  One spouse is not interested in working together.  This will kill a budget before it ever starts!  I have seen multiple examples where one person works like crazy to get their money in order, only to have the unfortunate surprise that their spouse has a huge credit card bill run up, or shows up with a new car, or buys a new boat, or signs up for an expensive vacation, or …  Oh my goodness!  Then the other spouse (who has been using a spending plan) is VERY TEMPTED to throw in the towel and join in with the frivolous spending.  They reason, "Well, if he/she can have what they want, I deserve it too …"  Couples who do not work together on major financial decisions run a high risk of not maximizing their potential.  They also run a higher risk of divorce …

4.  Failure to recognize that there is an "INCOME" portion to the INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO equation.  Seriously, I can't believe I have to write this, but it is SO true!  I have people show up for counseling, and they are not working!  Now, I can understand a couple of weeks without work (maybe), but I REALLY DO NOT GET NOT WORKING FOR SIX MONTHS!  My GOD!  How is this possible?  GET OFF OF YOUR BUTT AND GO TO WORK!  There is a great place to go when you are broke!  TO WORK!  It is a sure-fired money-making scheme! (Thanks, Dave Ramsey!)  There is NO EXCUSE in God's greatest nation on the planet where there are at least 1,000,001 ways to make money.  Go get a job.  I don't care if it makes someone feel sad to take a job at McDonald's!  It makes me feel sad when they draw welfare for 6 months when they have ABSOLUTELY NO REASON that they cannot work – except for "it makes me feel bad".  Waaah!  Earn some money.  It will cure depression.

Well, I have ranted enough today.  I know that it can be difficult to budget, but I believe that you can do this!  I believe that you have the know-how, the capability, and the inner-strength to work together with your spouse, avoid the debt trap, develop a plan for your life, and have fun doing this together!

Christmas Shopping!

Today, Jenn and I are off to Christmas shop.

It is a blast to shop with real money.  I have found that it means that I have to spend less (because we refuse to spend money we don't have – i.e. those dad-blamed credit cards), but that forces us to be creative!  FUN!

So, we are going to shop until we drop and then spend time as a family getting our Christmas cards out the door.

Life is a blast!

By the way, I highly recommend you budget for the following Christmas albums:

  • Harry Connick Jr. – When My Heart Finds Christmas
  • Elvis – Blue Christmas
  • Muppet Christmas With John Denver
  • Clay Aiken – Merry Christmas With Love
  • AND MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE: Maria Carey – Merry Christmas

I'm off to spend cash.

Joseph Sangl’s Dreams

I have a dream that we will be able to teach the Financial Learning Experience to at least 100,000 people in the next 5 years.  It is my passion to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible.  One HUGE way that I will be able to to do that is to equip others to manage their money in a way that enables them to achieve their life goals.

My dream is that all persons who attend NewSpring Church will one day be entirely debt-free.  My dream is that all persons living in Anderson County, South Carolina will one day be entirely debt-free.  My dream is that people will be able to do exactly what they were put on this earth to do REGARDLESS of the income potential.

I love seeing people doing what they love to do.  It pumps me up!  I love to hang out with people who do what they love to do.  The energy is contagious!  The excitement is tangible!  I love it!

When people get themselves set financially, it provides an unbelievable springboard to go do exactly what they have been made to do.  I dream about helping people achieve this.  It is what makes me get up every single morning and say, "YES!  I get to continue my crusade!"

I have HOPE for you!  If you are stuck in a horrible financial mess, I offer HOPE for you.  If you have no real idea of what you were created to do, I have HOPE for you!  You can do this!  You can win with money and get on with doing exactly what you were created to do.

These are my dreams.  Join me in my crusade!  Pass it on!  Go help you neighbor, your friend, your relative.  Teach them what you are being taught.  Go after this!  You can do it!  You don't need a finance degree – I don't have one!  You just need to care and be willing to share your story.

Dream.  How long has it been since you dreamed of what life could be like … ?

Financial Learning Experience Audio Available!

You can listen to the Financial Learning Experience that happened on December 4, 2006 at NewSpring Church right here in all of its unedited glory!

Frequently Asked Questions

I am regularly asked questions, so I thought that today I would write out a few common questions that I get along with my answers.

Do you really use cash envelopes?

Yes.  Jenn and I believe that it is the best way for us to ensure that we do not overspend the amount budgeted.  When we utilized the debit card, we blew the budget EVERY SINGLE MONTH!  Therefore, we use the cash envelope system.  I will say, however, that we only use cash envelopes for those categories that tend to go out of control – groceries, dining out, entertainment, blow money, household (stamps, haircuts, flowers, plants, holiday decorations, etc.).

We do not use cash envelopes for the utilities, the house payment, or other expenses that we do not have the ability to splurge on.  One category that we are debating right now is gasoline.  We have always used a cash envelope, but it is not like we are going to splurge on an extra tank of gas.  Where would I put it?  We may be moving that to a debit card transaction for a trial period.

How do you and Jenn put together a budget?

Whenever we plan an outing or event, we mark it on the calendar.  About 1 or 2 days before the month begins, we will sit down and put together the budget using the budget forms (you can get your free copy by clicking "Tools" in the top right-hand corner).  We have kept loaded the expenses from the previous month and adjust them according to this particular month.  Because this month is December and we will travel more and spend more time out on the town with family, we bumped up the "Gasoline" and "Entertainment" categories.  We also bumped up the "Household" category because we are purchasing Christmas Cards and snail-mailing them.  We knocked down the "Groceries" category because we will be at our family Christmas and eating leftovers for a week (YES!!!!).

We then ensure that the secret formula is applied:  INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO

Print it out, put the cash in envelopes, write the checks, the end.  Fun stuff!  Total Time:  20 minutes

What type of cash envelopes do you use?

The ones handed out by the bank.  We ask for a couple of extra ones and replace the torn/battered ones.  I know other people who use the free envelopes that come along with those wonderful credit card applications.  Best part – Free.

Does your daughter use cash envelopes?

Yes, our daughter does use cash envelopes.  It is priceless! :)  When the money runs out, it's over!

Do you tithe (give 10% away)?

ABSOLUTELY – and then some.  I believe that people who live in the wealthiest nation in the world have a special responsibility to help others.  Jenn and I passionately believe in some things – Purdue University (Go Boilers!), NewSpring Church (Yeah!), and Missionary Work (Alaskan remote regions and the Military).  We want to support these causes financially so that they can accomplish their work effectively!  Maybe we should give more to Purdue because their football team has struggled (SMILE), but we LOVE these things.  We can't help BUT give.

Does Jenn believe in this stuff as passionately as you do?

I would say that Jenn believes in this stuff at least FOUR TIMES more than I do!  Here is the big secret:  I did not come up with the budget in our family.  It was JENN!!!  I am the spender!  I hated the word "budget"!  But when I saw that it would enable us to WORK TOGETHER and achieve the PLANS we have for our life!  Oh yeah, I became a kool-aid drinking fool about this stuff!

Let me know if this type of Q&A helps you!  If you have any questions that you would like me to answer on this blog, post it in the comments or send me an e-mail.  Thanks!

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